Chatter: Big Trouble in Little Chinatown
What you said about what we said last week
If a Williamsburg, Va.-based developer gets its way, the residents of the Museum Square Section 8 apartment complex will be out on the street soon unless they can match the $250 million the developer says the land will be worth once the building is torn down, as Aaron Wiener reported in last week’s Housing Complex column. What makes it especially poignant is the possibility that Chinatown could lose about half of its Chinese residents.
When At-Large Councilmember and mayoral candidate David Catania read the article, he proposed emergency legislation to “require that the offer for sale made to residents of a Section 8 building pursuant to the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act be based on the assessed value of the property.” In a memo to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Catania wrote, “This will give the tenants of Museum Square a more realistic opportunity to pursue a purchase of the building.” (The bill likely won't make it to the Council dais until the fall.)
Some readers were feeling less generous. “So they were getting the majority of their rent paid by the rest of us, and now they won’t anymore,” wrote Colin: “Yeah, sorry, I’m not too sympathetic about that.” And RT: “It’s a pretty perverse world we live in that an owner can be held captive by folks who are using government money (i.e. our taxpayer money) to pay their rent and have a tacit ownership interest in.”
Kes pushed back: “The callousness of these comments is disgusting. I’m more than happy for my tax-dollars to subsidize the retirements of Ms. Wang, Mr. Yi, and all their co-tenants. I don’t want to live in a society that tosses people out on the street when their earning years are behind them.”
Shoot for Brains
Speaking of tax dollars: Julia Fisher’s cover story on the efforts of D.C.’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development to lure Hollywood productions to the District didn’t inspire confidence in some readers. “Why pay hundreds of thousands or millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to lure in some filming action that doesn’t create jobs and has at best a very short-lived effect,” wrote reader Pop M. “Can we afford vanity?”
In the comments, film office spokeswoman Leslie Green pushed back on some details in the piece, including that the film office’s director, Pierre Bagley, came to his “first major public oversight hearing” without a public statement. “Director Bagley did in fact present testimony during his first major public oversight hearing, which was the FY13/FY14 Budget Oversight Hearing held on February 26. The event Ms. Fisher referred to in March was an unscheduled roundtable that was called by Chairman Orange a week before it took place.” According to Fisher, however, the earlier oversight hearing wasn’t “major,” and Bagley’s testimony there was brief.
Department of Corrections
Due to an editing error, last week’s cover story originally said the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development brokered the city’s deal with Pigmental Studios; it was brokered by DMPED and the film office. Due to a reporting error, the article did not mention 70 employees of the Metropolitan Police Department, Fire and Emergency Service Department, and District Department of Transportation who were paid overtime by producers of a Red Bull commercial as part of a shoot. Also due to a reporting error, the article incorrectly said commercial filming is banned in Union Square.